Tension in Ukraine may further increase as Australian Prime Minister deploys armed security forces to the Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash site. The plane wreckage lies in the territory of pro-Russian separatists. According to political analysts in Berlin and Brussels, the presence of 100 Australian Federal Police in rebel territory may prove to be "dangerous."
Mr Abbott has decided to send Australian troops to aid in the recovery of bodies and collection of evidence from the Malaysia jet that was shot down from the sky on July 17 near Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. No one among the 298 people aboard the plane survived the crash. The move to send Australian police officers comes after the prime minister vowed to bring home the dead bodies of Australian victims.
In a phone interview with Bloomberg, Joerg Forbig, a senior program officer for central and eastern Europe at the Berlin branch of the German Marshall Fund, said Australia "must be nuts" for sending troops to Ukraine. He said it might be seen as a "provocation" by the Russians and separatists.
Reports said Ukraine's interest in seeking closer ties with Europe, the U.S. and American allies has been a source of tension with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia had accused the U.S. of instigating the five-month uprising in Ukraine that led to ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych.
The U.S. had previously told the Abbott government that it was prepared to provide assistance in recovering the victims' remains and evidence at the MH17 crash site if asked. However, Netherlands and Australia did not take the opportunity to request for U.S. assistance to avoid increasing the already "intense" political tension between the U.S. and Russia.
Mr Abbott's Operation Bring Them Home is a major operation that will be conducted in coordination with Ukraine and Angus Houston, the former Australian Defence Force chief and now retired Air Chief Marshal.
There were 28 Australians aboard the downed Malaysian aircraft last July 17. A public memorial service has been held for the 298 victims of MH17 at St Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne on July 24. More than 1,200 people attended the service to mourn for the hundreds of lives lost including the 28 Australian passengers.